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26 Jan, 2024 00:17

Serbia defends ‘White Lotus’ actor from Ukrainian attack

Kiev has protested HBO’s casting of Milos Bikovic in the Emmy-winning series
Serbia defends ‘White Lotus’ actor from Ukrainian attack

Claims that actor Milos Bikovic is a “genocide supporter” or international law violator are utterly baseless, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

Belgrade’s reaction came a day after the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry complained on X (formerly Twitter) that Bikovic is a supporter of Russia and therefore “supports genocide and violates international law,” demanding of HBO to drop him from the cast of ‘White Lotus.’

”These claims are entirely unfounded,” the Serbian MFA said in a statement. “Serbia has a long tradition of arts and culture, and we are very proud of our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of creativity.”

The ministry described Bikovic as “one of the most talented and most popular Serbian actors of his generation, who has had a major impact on both Serbian and international cinematography although he is still very young.”  Minister Ivica Dacic gave Bikovic a Serbian MFA commendation in 2019, for his contribution to promoting Serbia around the world, the statement noted.

HBO – which is owned by CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery – announced on January 12 that Bikovic was cast in the third season of ‘White Lotus.’ The Emmy award-winning dark comedy anthology follows the guests and employees of the eponymous resort chain.

While this would be the first US role for Bikovic, the 36-year-old is already a household name in Serbia and Russia. After several notable roles in Serbian productions, his big international break came in 2014, when he was cast in Nikita Mikhalkov’s ‘Sunstroke’. 

He went on to play notable roles in a variety of TV shows and films, including ‘The Kitchen’ spinoff ‘Otel Eleon’ (2016-2017) and ‘Serf’ (also known as ‘Son of a Rich’), the 2019 comedy that became Russia’s biggest box office hit of all time, second only to James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. He has since starred in two seasons of the Serbian crime drama ‘South Wind’, a sequel to ‘Son of a Rich’, as well as ‘The Challenge,’ a 2023 drama filmed partially in orbit.

Bikovic received the Pushkin Medal for his contributions to Russian culture in 2018 and was granted Russian citizenship in 2021. Ukraine responded by banning him from entering the country in 2019.

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